Rain, wind and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence swamped the Carolinas early on Friday as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people with record rainfall and punishing surf.
"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood and making sure my neighbours are fine, because nobody can get in here". "Preparation is key. As we speak, my wife is battening down everything we can, boarding the windows".
"Once that water comes up to three feet, you can see it would be coming up my shins up towards my waist". But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", he said.
"You can see there's fish floating around in here". "Some of the people who are calling had pre-existing medical issues that needed assistance and some calls are from people who were trapped in attic or homes. We were anxious about the hurricane, had it continued to be as strong as what they were originally stating".
Joyce, with winds extending about 35 miles from its center, is expected to tap the brakes a bit and turn eastward by Friday night, and then accelerate northeastward over the weekend.
Hurricane Florence already inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power early Friday, and forecasters say conditions will only worsen as the hulking storm slogs inland.
Accuweather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said the worst is far from over.
Top winds were holding at 90 miles per hour - that's just a Category 1 hurricane - but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel.
USA businesses ranging from Tesla to Amazon to breweries both large and small have stepped in to offer help to victims of Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence claimed its first victims Friday afternoon, when two people died after a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina, police said.
Four shelters were now open, Roberts said, adding that dispatchers received a call for 17 people stranded all on one street.
"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said. People tend to check social media more frequently during breaking news events, and it becomes even easier for manipulated weather projections and deceptive survival tips to go viral.
Still, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.